Do you remember our discussion a year ago about the disaster on the Altamaha River in Georgia? Director Randall Miller, who allegedly flaunted his image as a renegade and rulebreaker, has now pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Elizabeth Jones during filming on train tracks on a trestle bridge over the river. The sentence includes two years in prison, eight years on parole, and a $20,000 fine.
Miller becomes the first film director to serve time for a death on set.
The incident resulted in a lot of discussion here on TOP, and some of it got heated when we advised against the convention of posing portraits on railroad tracks. Some people refuse to believe that being on railroad tracks could be dangerous...a perception which leads to people dying there (it also leads to accidental deaths being assumed to be suicides).
To repeat our advice then: "Venture there yourself if you want to risk your own life—photographers do take foolish risks to get photographs—but keep your clients, friends and models off train tracks. Using train tracks as a setting for photographs is an illegal, unethical, and unsafe practice."
Out-of-service stretches of track set aside for public use are an exception.
Miller's wife and collaborator Jody Savin goes free under the terms of the deal, despite originally facing charges similar to those her husband pleaded guilty to.
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Featured Comments from:
Chuck Albertson: "Back in February, a guy got killed south of here while taking a selfie standing between the northbound and southbound tracks of the BNSF main line. He only saw the southbound train coming. And yesterday, a woman was so engrossed in texting someone on her smartphone that she ducked under the safety barrier at a crossing and was clipped by a freight train (and lived)."